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Live Your Pop-Up Shop Dream with Tips from Tia Brumbelow of Dex and Bodie

Has a year of social distancing got you feeling leery of putting your goods (+ yourself) back out there? Maybe you’re a bit intimidated about taking the plunge with your very first pop-up. We see you. Luckily, Tia Brumbelow of Dex and Bodie has all the tips! We chatted with Tia to find out how she got started creating successful pop-ups for her small shop—a home + clothing collective based in SoCal. 

From which search terms to use while shopping for displays online to where to buy inexpensive décor that’ll make your goods pop, Tia spills it all in our Q&A. She says trends are great and all, but the most important thing is to be yourself and stay true to your own personal style. (Amen, Tia!)

Tell us about Dex and Bodie!

Dex and Bodie started as a creative outlet, featuring prints and small-batch kids clothing. I’ve since added home-decor products from various fair-trade sources as a way to fill your home with items you love. I love to provide unique pieces while also helping those here at home and around the world earn a sustainable living. After having our son, Dex, who happened to have been born with a rare chromosome abnormality, we knew we had to share our story and support the special needs community in any way we can. Because of that, a portion of sales goes to various special needs charities, our local NICU and other causes that are near to our hearts. 

How long has Dex and Bodie been a shop? 

Around 2014-2015, I started with clothing and prints, but it wasn’t until 2018 when I went all in with home decor. I still feature a couple of clothing items here and there, but home is where most of my passion lives, and that’s what you’ll mostly see currently. 

What are some of your favorite items currently?

I love the new trivets I had the privilege to design with Kazi (a fair-trade company I order from) and the new throw pillows I’ve been having so much fun with. I feel that these two items are such great ways to add texture to any space—indoor or out.

How did you get started going to markets and pop-ups?

At my very first pop-up, I was actually approached through Instagram! This was a few years ago when I was still doing just prints and clothing. I was an absolute hot mess, but I absolutely loved it! I loved talking with everyone, and that really began my love for pop-ups and markets!

How many would you say you do a month?

Around two or three. If I do more than that, it gets a little hard to restock quickly. Two to three per month is just enough to make sure I can get quality pieces in. During the holiday season, I may do more, since that’s the busiest time of the year for me. For those times, I make sure to fully stock ahead of time. 

What are some mistakes you made early on that we can learn from?

I think, for me, two of the biggest mistakes I made early on were bringing way too much to set up and not having portable and collapsible items to display with. During my first pop-up (and many after), I was down to the wire. I underestimated the time it took to set up and break down. I used displays that were not very practical for multiple uses and travel. I was so grateful that other vendors were so warm and welcoming and able to give tips. 

Now, I use rolling totes and a wagon for the markets that I have to walk far to set up. I also purchased a very easy collapsible display that I found on Etsy and just grabbed some wood from Home Depot. It takes up hardly any room in my car, and it’s a breeze to set up. Another tip would be this: instead of searching for “market” or “craft fair” displays, look for items under “small retail shop” or “portable display” for home or shop. You then open up your options and can really tap into your creativity. 

What’s on your must-have pack list when you’re selling at a pop-up?

Change, card reader, Venmo code easily accessible, portable phone charger, snacks (if you can’t leave to grab something), portable speaker—especially if it’s a larger market. A small cooler for long market days. 

What are your top tips for making your space feel personal?

For texture, I love to use rugs and throws. I use lots of neutral colors that feel super warm and inviting. I arrange my space in either an L or U shape, so it feels like you’re walking into a small shop. I love when people feel like they can walk around. If it’s a small space, you can still make it open by using fewer display pieces. Don’t be afraid to bring things from home, like a stool, plants, or even a mirror. 

What are some display items + selling tools you can’t live without? 

For displays, I always have to bring my collapsible room divider, because it just ties everything together. For selling, having a backup card reader is good for those days when things just aren’t working. Most platforms will provide you your first one for free or at a low cost. 

What would you say to the makers who are nervous to get out there, or who might not have the funds to buy a fancy set-up?

First, I’ve been there! I actually still get a little nervous before any market, and I too can play the comparison game at times. It’s a natural feeling, but don’t dwell in that mindset. Remember, every single vendor has been in your shoes, and, from my experience, everyone has been so welcoming, kind, and helpful! You’ll never know until you try. It’s fun, and once you’re all set up, that feeling of accomplishment and seeing your items on display is worth every late night and worth feeling a bit nervous. I always say a prayer before any event, and I’m reminded that even if I don’t sell one thing, the exposure and experience is always a good thing.

Also, don’t worry about spending tons of money on your display, especially if you are just starting out. Using folding tables is perfect, but maybe instead of a tablecloth, you use a textured throw. Go to places like Marshalls, HomeGoods, or T.J.Maxx. You can usually find some really inexpensive and quality rugs and even small tables you can use. Once you’re established and you find that pop-ups are what you love, then maybe spend a little more on a great backdrop from a small shop. Peg boards are super popular right now and a great way to display. Don’t be afraid to DIY if there is anything out there that you love. There are also really cool inexpensive options like banners from Office Depot that do full color for under $50. Hang it vertically for a different look when using a pop-up tent! Etsy is a great resource for signs and displays that won’t break the bank. Above all, be yourself and stay true to your style. Trends are great and I love them but remember you can hop on a trend and still make it your own. 

Where can we shop your goods?

You can shop online at Dexandbodie.com, in person at Goods on Orange in Long Beach Wed-Sun, and of course monthly pop-ups that I post on Instagram!

Find Tia’s shop on Instagram at @dexandbodie!

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